Ask paediatricians how often they saw children
with “minimal brain dysfunction”, as ADHD
was then known, in the 80s, and their answers range from one in 100 to one in 500. In the early 90s, Ritalin prescriptions were running at about 2,000 a year, although the drug had been available for years and was in massive use in the US. Today, the figure is over 600,000. Does the fault really lie inside our children’s brains, or is it a further – and dangerous – manifestation of a medicalising culture?